‘The Red Shoes’ dances its way into Charlotte after stunning audiences in London and Los Angeles

The critically-acclaimed ballet tells the tragic tale of competing passions

It isn’t hard for the performers in Matthew Bourne’s critically-acclaimed production of “The Red Shoes” to relate to the ballet’s central story of being torn between two competing passions, says dancer Glenn Graham.

Glenn Graham left, plays Grischa Ljubov and Sergei Ratov in ‘The Red Shoes.’

“There’s a sense of truth [to the performances],” Graham, who plays Grischa Ljubov and Sergei Ratov, tells qnotes. “You know the feelings that the dancers are going through, you know the pain that they go through, you know the sort of sacrifice they have to give to the art.

“You don’t see your family, you don’t see your friends, you’re on tour all the time,” he adds. “So, a lot of that comes into play. You can see that we’ve actually gone through those experiences…So there’s a lot of truth in there.”

The Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, turned Academy Award-winning movie, tells the story of Victoria Page, an ambitious young dancer who must choose between her love for her art form and for the young man with whom she has fallen in love.

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Ashley Shaw, right, dances in ‘The Red Shoes.’
Photo Credit: Johan Persson

After successful shows in London, U.K. and Los Angeles, Calif., and with another upcoming in Washington, D.C., “The Red Shoes” will swing through Charlotte, N.C. for a six-night run at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, from Oct. 17-22.

It reunites the team who produced another one of the company’s biggest worldwide hits, “Sleeping Beauty,” with set and costume designs by Lez Brotherston, Paule Constable on lighting and Paul Groothuis on sound.

“The Red Shoes” features a score by Terry Davies, using the music of Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, best known for collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese, performed live by the New Adventures Orchestra.

Liam Mower, who plays Ivan Boleslawsky, a performance that has been noted for its strong campy nature, agrees with Graham’s assessment of the intersection and imitation of life and art found in this ballet about a ballet company.

He echoed Graham’s statement on the incredible amount of work and sacrifice necessary to become successful in dance, as well as the extended time spent away from loved ones.

Part of what makes that sacrifice worth it is knowing that the audiences appreciate and respond to the performances that come at the end of all that hard work and dedication.

Liam Mower, left, as Ivan Boleslawsky in a scene from ‘The Red Shoes. ‘Photo Credit: Johan Persson

Mower reports that they are being rewarded in that arena in spades, with the U.S. premiere shows in Los Angeles bringing accolades and boisterous crowd response.

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“The audiences in LA are really incredible,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve ever really received a reaction quite like it.”

“I think comparing it to British audiences,” he continues, “British audiences are a little bit more reserved, and I guess a little bit more shy, and then I guess more appreciative at the end. Whereas the audiences here are just so raucous, and people are not scared to react to something that’s funny, or if something is sad, or they’ll applaud kind of mid-show, which is really amazing. So, it’s nice to get that response.”

“We’re quite overwhelmed by the audience response,” Graham agrees.

Those audiences have included some celebrities, Graham shares, including Angela Lansbury, Paula Abdul, Michelle Visage from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” artist David Hockney, and the cast of “Hamilton.”

Mower believes he knows why Bourne’s work has become so popular with audiences and critics alike.

“I think Matthew’s work reaches such a wider audience, and I think so many other people can relate to the work, because it’s down to earth, it’s gritty,” he says.

“You don’t come to one of his productions and just watch purely dance for two hours,” he continues. “There’s a story to follow, and the characters are really strong and stand at the forefront. So that’s really easy for people to just sit and get lost in the story, because there’s so much to take in, with characters you can follow and be with on their journey.”

If you wish to follow that journey as it makes a stop in the Carolinas, you can find more information and purchase tickets by going to blumenthalarts.org.

Sam Archer, above, plays Boris Lermontov in ‘The Red Shoes.’ Photo Credit: Johan Persson


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Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.